Books read in July 2019

July was a month of YA reading, and came with some excellent book-reading experiences. All hail summer reading!

Recommended

Young Adult: Internment, With the Fire on High, Birthday, We are the Perfect Girl, Like a Love Story

Young Adult

Internment
Samira Ahmed
Read for Librarian Book Group

An alternate-present distopia where all the Muslims in the US are moved to concentration camps just like the Japanese were during WWII. I found this to be a highly discusssable book, with high stakes that I gobbled up.

I correctly predicted the fate of one of the characters very early on, and I would have liked more of a wrap up, but overall, it was a great read.

Within These Lines
Stephanie Morrill

Hot on the heels of Internment, I read this book about a young couple separated by the forced relocation of people of Japanese descent during World War II. The book excelled in depicting the conditions in the internment camp.

It was also one of those historical fiction books where the characters seem to have been transported from 2019 to the early 1940’s. And there weren’t nearly enough siblings. Both the main characters were only children, somewhat of an anomaly during that time.

With the Fire on High
Elizabeth Acevdo
Read for Librarian Book Group

Man, oh man, do I love this book. I can’t recall the last YA novel I read where the main character is also a mom. And what a good mom she was!

Emoni is also a talented cook and the descriptions of her meal preparation felt like descriptions of how art is made. Ultimately, I think she was a little too perfect, but Acevdo’s writing was so good that I didn’t mind.

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc
David Elliott
Read for Librarian Book Group

The story of Joan of Arc told in different forms of verse.

I loathed all of the verse. I didn’t like how it was written, I despised the poems arranged in shapes, and I thought the guide that explained the different types of poetry within the book should have been at the beginning, not the end.

That said, it’s a short book, so the torture didn’t go on for an overly long period of time.

Birthday
Meredith Russo

It took me a bit to realize this was the same sort of set up as David Nicholl’s One Day. (Which is, of course, the same set up as Same Time Next Year, which probably has the same set up as something in Ovid I don’t know about.)

Anyway! In this case we have two best friends who share a birthday and we meet them on their 13th birthday. Morgan wants to tell his best friend Eric a secret, because if he can tell Eric, then he can tell his father, and after that maybe he can start telling the world.

The stakes are high in this novel. There is no inclusive culture in the small town where the boys live. Life is hard, and both of them are dealing with challenges–poverty, loss of parents, authoritarian parents.

Meredith Russo writes the brutal reality of kids without a support network. This is a hard book, but a good one.

We are the Perfect Girl
Ariel Kaplan

It’s been quite some time since I read such a funny book. Just like in the movies, comedy doesn’t get the same respect as tragedy. It also had very gentle stakes, (no one was going to die, or be killed!) but still packed a punch.

There’s great body image stuff that will probably feel universal for most girls and women, and Kaplan expertly captures pining for a certain someone to love you, while also being convinced they never will love you.

Like a Love Story
Abdi Nazemian

AIDS. It was killing a lot of people during my formative years. And I feel like we’re in a phase of not talking about it.

Enter this book, the story of three kids in New York City. Art is out, Judy is is best friend, and Reza is the new guy at school, lately from Toronto, originally from Iran.

Through their stories, we get the horror and magic that was 1989, the danger of coming out, and the worry and hope of falling in love.

Interspersed with their stories are Art’s note cards written by Judy’s Uncle Stephen as a primer to gay life. I would have liked more of these note cards, but it was a pretty long book, already.

Young Nonfiction

Planting Stories
Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar
Read for Librarian Book Group

A beautifully illustrated story of the life of Pura Belpre, librarian, storyteller, puppeteer, and namesake of the award for outstanding works of literature by Lantinx authors and illustrators.

The illustrations are gorgeous. The text had some gaps. For instance: How long did she give up her storytelling to follow her husband around the world?

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